70th Meeting – July 1990

Wiang Ta Murals

A talk and slide presentation by Vithi Phanichphant

Ajaan Vithi's talk was illustrated throughout by a fine collection of slides of murals, interspersed with spontaneous and humorously penetrating remarks. These murals, previously decorating the walls of a one hundred year old Shan-style temple/pavilion in Wiang Ta Village, midway between Lampang and Phrae, are executed in the Lanna style, which today can be found in only a few scattered Northern temples. Later, the murals, painted on wood panels, were removed to a new temple [Wat Wiang Ta Mon] in the village constructed from the remains of the old one. Still later, the murals were donated to the Mae Fah Luang Foundation in Chiang Rai and, hopefully, will be on view again in the future.

Three major topics are covered by the murals: two from the Jataka – ‘Kam Ka Dam’ and ‘Saeng Muang Long Tham’ - and one local, probably renderings of devotees and sponsors. The artist is unknown, but his style is similar to that in some other Northern temples. While his name appears on no panels, a self-portrait may. The paintings are executed in great detail and make excellent use of the cracks between panels in representing trees, pillars and other fore­ground objects, adding a sense of depth - thus, the viewer becomes an onlooker. While most of the illustrations depict village life, they also tell religious and mythical stories. A few panels depict ‘early Northern condomini­ums’ and bearded farang in straw hats.